By Mariah Kline | Business Profile
Derby headwear designer Maureen Uhlin wears many hats (so to speak) as she works a full-time job and creates unique hats and fascinators this time of year. As the owner of Maureen’s Creations, she has designed and crafted thousands of hats, fascinators and custom headpieces for Derby and other special events.
Maureen began creating in 2010 when her daughter and a friend needed fascinators to wear on the Derby red carpet. She put together two pieces for the women, who received countless compliments and inquiries about where they found their headwear. Her daughter encouraged her to continue making headpieces and turn the hobby into a business.
Now in her seventh year, Maureen has gained a great deal of attention and many repeat clients who turn to her for their headwear every Derby season. Her pieces have been featured in Us Weekly, Elle Magazine and more. One of her most famous designs, which was worn by public figure and NBA scout Bonnie-Jill Laflin, is now on display at the Kentucky Derby Museum.
Though she does not have a storefront, Maureen participates in several trunk shows and pop-up shops during Derby season. So far this year, she has been part of multiple trunk shows and selling events and most recently participated in the Bellas and Fellas Fashion Show. She also works with derbyvip.com, a website that allows guests to find their tickets to the race, make hotel reservations and plan their look for Derby.
Though placing an order a few weeks prior to Derby is recommended, Maureen accepts last-minute orders and delivers her creations all the way up until the day of the big race. Most of her products are created based on the dress the customer is going to wear on race day. They send her a picture of their outfit, and she produces a unique piece to complement the look. For those who are attending multiple events, she can design a full collection of hats and fascinators, all of which are guaranteed to stand out.
“Most people make it all about the dress and buy a solid color hat to match,” she says. “My designs are very colorful and have so much going on that it becomes the center of attention.”
As for the trends she’s seen in the last few years, Maureen has noticed a drastic demand for fascinators rather than hats. Her creations consist of about 20 percent hats and the remaining 80 percent are fascinators, hatinators and other headpieces. Her creative process is somewhat unusual but quite effective.
“I do most of my work in the middle of the night,” she explains. “Around midnight is when my creative juices start flowing. Sometimes I’ll wake up the next day and surprise myself with what I’ve made.”
Maureen has enjoyed her last seven years of designing extravagant Derby headwear and is excited to see how Maureen’s Creations grows in the coming years. Though not everyone loves wearing over-the-top pieces for Derby events, she encourages her customers to always be adventurous.
“This is the time when you want to go ‘all out’ and go outside of your comfort zone,” she affirms. “My clients are sometimes hesitant to do that, but then a lot of them call me afterward and say, ‘I’m so glad I did that,’ or, ‘I loved all of the compliments that I got.’” VT